Playing With The Past
When I started writing again—I played with writing short stories as a teen and young adult and didn’t return to it seriously until very recently, around 40—I figured I’d write a bunch of science fiction. Real sci-fi-y sci-fi. You know, alien empires and planet-detonating death rays, that sort of stuff. I like reading space opera and hard science fiction, so I assumed I’d write it.
But when I sat down with the intent to write that sort of thing, I found it didn’t appeal to me as a writer. Judging from my output, which you can see listed here on Goodreads or Smashwords, I like writing a little closer to home. I like the near future, writing about the far-reaching effects of relatively small changes in society and technology, writing about what’s going on in the heads of people who aren’t that far removed from who we are now.
Unexpectedly, I also found that I like writing about the distant past once in a while. I’ve read my share of Harry Turtledove‘s alternate history and speculative history, and while I thought it would be interesting to write things like that, I didn’t think it was something I’d write. As i read his work, it struck me that there was a lot of knowledge, understanding, study, and research behind what he does. It was a daunting thought, and I didn’t think I could do it right.
But there’s a lot of blank space in our historical thought. There’s a ton we don’t know, and a lot of room to speculate. The farther you go back, the less we know and the more expansive the room to speculate is. I have always been interested in what might have been going on in the world before people began to record history, before writing was a thing that anybody did.
So every once in a while, my writing wanders back into that time before history, and I write about things like first contact with aliens happening during the tail end of the ice age in Out of the Cold, or giving a possible answer to the question of why human beings appear to have developed the skills that would have allowed civilization to arise somewhere around 50,000 years ago (according to one school of thought about the past) but did not begin to build cities until about 40,000 years later in The Always-House People.
I could devote more time and energy into analyzing why I choose to write the things I write. But the bottom line is that I like to dream, and I hope that people enjoy reading my dreams.
Posted on January 19, 2013, in Speculative History, Things I've Written and tagged aliens, Alternate history, Behavioral Modernity, civilization, creativity, ebook, Fiction, first contact, Goodreads, Harry Turtledove, Human, Ice Age, science fiction, speculative fiction. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.